My kitchen is bigger than her whole house. My walls and floor gleam white and one entire corner of my lounge is well-tended, exotic jungle.
Her bed fills her entire room, save a 2-foot strip which allows space to get dressed and access the personal effects stored under the bed.
My apartment is flooded with light. Her room is gloomy, the building itself over 100 years old; sagging, chipped, damp.
When we visit, she squats on the floor so that we can perch on the bed. She fetches cha and biscuits and says that after payday she’d like to cook us a meal.
I know it’s time to invite her to our place, but I haven’t yet. I’m procrastinating.
My house has shielded me during the last 8 months of immersion in the chaos of this place. From my balcony I seldom see pain, I hear very few of the street arguments and can barely smell the unmentionable deposits on the street.
It is a haven, and a badge of my wealth. Honestly, it’s hard to host some of our friends here. It’s mostly my personal shame – ‘behold my wealth’ - that makes it hard, and the watchful eyes of our middle-class neighbours.
We still do it. But sometimes it makes me squirm. It’s a privilege to be able to give hospitality to our workmates and friends. We have the resources and the capacity, and we want to give freely without making it all about us.
I’m trying to adjust my attitude and anchor my actions to the original motivation, the thing that fulfils us – loving others.
And specifically, loving those who are not always well-loved, easily loved, or able to return love.
So what if I’m embarrassed to fend off questions about how much my beautifully engineered and indestructible umbrella cost? Or worse, what we pay in rent.
That’s truly inconsequential. I need to hear that every time I hesitate.
Written by Sophie serving in South Asia
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